Languages of the First Nations

Did you know?

Cree, an Algonquian language, is spoken by more than 87,000 people in Canada, making it the country’s most spoken Aboriginal language.[1] According to the Statistics Canada 2006 Census, Inuktitut is the official language of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, and it is spoken by more than 35,000 people.[2] Many of Canada’s place names have their roots in Aboriginal languages. Place names describe geographic realities in the eyes of Aboriginal peoples. In 1535, explorer Jacques Cartier was told in the Iroquoian or Huron language that the path to Stadacona (Quebec City) was Kanata, which is in fact the word for a village or a cluster of dwellings. Cartier named the territory governed by Donnacona‑Stadacona’s chief‑ Canada and the name was then applied to a much wider region.

Le saviez-vous?

Le cri, une langue algonquine, est parlée par plus de 87,000 personnes au Canada, ce qui en fait la langue autochtone la plus parlée au pays. Selon le Recensement de 2006 de Statistique Canada, l’Inuktitut est la langue officielle du Nunavut et des Territoires du Nord-Ouest. Cette langue est parlée par plus de 35,000 personnes. De très nombreux noms de lieux au Canada sont issus des langues autochtones. Ces toponymies décrivent les réalités géographiques aux yeux des Autochtones. En 1535, des Amérindiens ont dit à l’explorateur Jacques Cartier le mot Kanata en indiquant le chemin au village de Stadacona (la ville de Québec).[3] En fait, Kanata était le mot qui désignait un village ou un groupe de maisons dans la langue des Hurons ou des Iroquois. Cartier baptisa du nom Canada tout le territoire gouverné par Donnacona, le chef de Stadacona. Le nom a ensuite été appliqué à une région beaucoup plus étendue.

By Barbara McClintock, C.Tr./trad.a.


[2] Turtle Island Ibid Canadian North

[3] RCI

Hôtel République

I was staying in a little town in France with a small crew to film a documentary film about French feminism and how men treat women in France. I had been in the country for a few weeks before I was to meet Jacques in Paris. I knew approximately what time he was supposed to arrive in Paris, so I went to a phone booth to try to reach him before I went to join him. I called him at the hotel where he was staying, but the hotel clerk who answered said he was not there. There was a long pause before he said: “Goodbye.” I was a bit upset that he had not called or emailed me to tell me he had arrived.

I had bought my train ticket online, but on the day of my departure, the railroad workers went on strike, as it seemed fashionable to do in France. There was no one to verify my train ticket on board. I was very anxious on the train ride on my way to Paris to meet him after not having seen him in about a month. I was alone on the train because my film crew was going to meet me a few days later when we had arranged to interview a French feminist author who lived in the 6th arrondissement. I was a bit nervous about being alone with camera equipment, and I was afraid that someone might try to steal it from me, if I was not careful.

While I was looking for a seat on board, some men said hello to me with devilish smiles. Everyone in France seemed to greet strangers with a “Bonjour!” so I instinctively started a hello before thinking I did not have to reply. I found a seat as far away from potential thieves as I could, and tried to hide myself by putting a scarf over my head. If I had had sunglasses, I probably would have put them on. Again, I was feeling unnerved from being by myself and of meeting Jacques in a foreign country for the first time. Many months previously, I had told him that no matter what happened, he had to come and meet me in France. I have to admit that I did have a few expectations of how things were going to unravel.

I had met Jacques the previous spring. He was the most charismatic person I had ever met. I swiftly became infatuated with him. Even though I intensely wanted to be with him, somehow, it did not feel quite right.

Because of the unexpected strike, there was a delay before I got to the Gare de l’Est. I looked around, but he was nowhere in sight. For a moment, I thought he would never show up, and that I would be stuck in Paris alone. Then, I saw his panic-stricken face come out of nowhere, and he said he thought he had missed me with all the passengers coming out of the train. He looked as if he had been freaking out. I smiled at this, thinking it was pretty funny.


Photo credit : Anonymous

I knew he really liked lavender, so I gave him a very expensive gift from L’Occitane in the train station. He only opened it later in the hotel room, but when he did, he threw away the gift box I had paid a few extra euros for, and damaged the corners by smashing it on the floor.

     “What’s this box for?” he yelled.

For some reason, this was his thing. He enjoyed destroying pretty things. He would damage, drink or eat goods in grocery stores, and put them in the wrong place on purpose thinking he was being comical or acting like an anarchist. A bit later, I was looking at the pictures on his camera, and I saw he had been at a restaurant with a friend of his for déjeuner, a young blond French woman who had a Doctorate in film studies, but who was working at Disneyland in Paris.

Paris’s sky was darkening as I was getting hungry, and he wanted to buy food from a strange street vendor who was selling some kind of shish taouk, but there was no way I was going to eat that after travelling for two hours. We finally decided to go to McDonald’s.

In the hotel room, he told me he had brought many of his ex-girlfriends to this Hôtel République. Anyone who has been to Paris knows that there are dozens of hotels with the same names, but no, he had been bringing his girlfriends to this exact one. Hopefully, not always in this exact same room. It was a cheap hotel, overcrowded with cheesy Hollywood-style decorations.

Later that evening, he seemed more interested in watching a TV program about prostitutes who took pleasure in having sex with disabled people than spending time talking with me or going out. The next day, the Black hotel maids were singing: “Ah! Vous faites des ouh, ouh, ouh là, ouh là!” and were laughing hysterically.

We did go to a nice French restaurant – with one of his many ex-lovers. Of course, he did take the time to inform me beforehand. It was odd because her last name was quite similar to mine, but with a different spelling. I think it is easy to figure out what it means if a man tells you about his “Grande amie.”

We went to the office of this “American woman living in Paris”, Terri, who had a small film company. She had directed and produced one fiction film in which her son had starred, and had worked with many famous European actors. I noticed how shockingly thin she was because she was wearing clunky bracelets that made it even more apparent. The restaurant was called “Le Sporting.” I only had a risotto and a glass of red wine, yet it was so creamy rich, I could not eat the whole plate. It cut my appetite after only a few bites. He ate all the leftover risotto from my plate.

During dinner, he thought it was really funny to mention that there was some place in Paris where lovers go in their cars, and wankers go to watch them. Then he talked about a time when Terri was supposed to hook up with a friend they had in common who made a living by designing posters. She said he could continue being a wanker for all she cared. When we went outside, Jacques whispered something into her ear about having been to a hotel together. She had a little shocked reaction before she asked at which hotel we were staying.

One morning, I finally met the hotel clerk who had answered the phone when I had called to talk to Jacques.

     “So you are Catherine?” he asked.

He was probably a lonely hotel clerk because he looked like he enjoyed himself too well when Jacques took a picture of the clerk and me with our hands on the counter. I had banged my head on the door when I had tried to leave the hotel.

A few days later, we went to a restaurant I had read about before leaving and I really wanted to go to even though it was fairly expensive. It was quite far away from where we were staying, so we had to travel a long way on the old metro. When we got there, he didn’t order anything because it was too expensive for his budget, and I ended up paying for myself. Our waitress was very beautiful, perhaps the picture-perfect example of a French woman, and he spent most of the evening trying to start up a conversation with her, even leaving me at the table by myself for a long period of time.

At least my entrée was delectable, the lamb I had was so tender, it melted in my mouth, and the Charlotte aux poires was exquisite. Unfortunately, another waitress who wasn’t as good looking got in his way by trying to get his attention. She was even calling him by his first name by the end of my meal.

During the whole trip, he kept taking billions of pictures of me, especially when my eyes were closed, when I was making grimaces or when I was angry. But at some point, not long after this, I got fed up. I was so livid because of his behaviour that I felt ill. The sparkle in my eyes had died. My face turned white. He took a picture of me next to a metro sign that read, “Blanche.” all the while laughing at his photo concept. I kept thinking how this was the worst idea of my life to ask him to come and meet me. What was I thinking?

     “Do you love me?” I asked him.

     “Not that much, no.” he replied half-muffled, yet without much restraint.

After many months, it did not make any sense to me why someone would stay in a relationship, even though they did not love the other person. Was it out of sheer loneliness or stupidity? Maybe, it was just because we could. It would have been a good thing, if it had ended right then and there, but it did not. I cried on my way back to the hotel, passing the Moulin Rouge. I was a sad 20 year-old in Paris.

*This fiction story was originally written for a Magazine Writing class at Concordia’s Centre for Continuing Education in July 2013.

A Tricky Expression: Tirer son Épingle du Jeu

Agir afin que nos collectivités puissent tirer leur épingle du jeu dans une économie en dents de scie.

Act to ensure that communities can seize the opportunities in a volatile economy.

Recently, I’ve noticed that the expression “tirer son épingle du jeu” has become very popular. I looked it up to find out what it meant and what I discovered surprised me.

Le Petit Robert, 2014, p.907 – Tirer son épingle du jeu : Se dégager adroitement d’une situation délicate, se retirer à temps d’une affaire qui devient mauvaise, sauver sa mise.

The dictionary meaning of the expression doesn’t seem to match the way it is being used. I have seen it used to mean “to succeed” or simply “to take advantage of a situation,” rather than to emerge unscathed from a difficult or tricky situation. Next, I looked it up in the Multidictionnaire, which says on p. 1594, that tirer son épingle du jeu = profiter d’une situation délicate.

For idioms, I like to check the old standard dictionaries. There are clearly two different meanings. Robert Collins states the following on p. 356: tirer son épingle du jeu = 1. bien manoeuvrer = to play one’s game well; 2. s’en sortir à temps = to extricate oneself.


Image source: Présentoirs pour bijoux

Get out now while the going is good or take advantage of the opportunities available?

Irène de Buisseret, on p. 413 of her classic translation guide, Deux langues, six idiomes, reprinted by Denys Goulet, Association des traducteurs et interprètes de l’Ontario, Ottawa: Carlton-Green Pub., 1989, does not recommend translating phrases similar to “to extricate oneself” by tirer son épingle du jeu. This is good advice to avoid ambiguity. Moreover, the expression has now taken on a broader, more positive meaning. Irène provides the following example:

Source: We should get out of the whole business.


The criticized translation is: Nous devrions tirer notre épingle du jeu.

Irène de Buisseret proposes the following translation: Nous devrions en sortir complètement.

A popular expression these days

In the next two examples, the expression has a more positive meaning:

  • Le Québec tire son épingle du jeu, lui qui possède la moitié des effectifs canadiens en traduction.

Quebec benefits from the fact that half of all Canadian translators live there.

  • Pour tirer votre épingle du jeu, vous devez vous préparer à l’entrevue.

The key is to go to the interview prepared.

By Barbara McClintock, C. Tr. “The Word Geek”

Petit guide de mes thés préférés Partie II : Les tisanes sans caféine

Voici la suite de mon petit guide, cette fois, les tisanes.

Un incontournable de Celestial Seasonings est la tisane Épices du Bengale, un heureux mélange d’épices, telles que la cannelle, le gingembre, la chicorée et le clou de girofle. Il s’agit d’une version sans caféine et plus épicée d’un chai. Servez-le à des invités, même ceux qui n’aiment pas la tisane voudront l’essayer !


Épices du Bengale crédit photo : Celestial Seasonings


J’avoue que je suis encore néophyte en ce qui concerne David’s Tea. Néanmoins, je vous confirme que noix magiques (à gauche) est un délicieux mélange d’amandes et de morceaux de pommes. Il produit un liquide rouge, car il contient de la betterave. J’ai l’impression que toutes les tisanes à la menthe poivrée et les rooibos, des « thés » rouges, goûtent sensiblement la même chose. Je les aime donc tous peu importe la marque et le prix !

J’aime beaucoup commander mes thés et mes tisanes en ligne. Camellia Sinensis et David’s Tea offrent toujours des échantillons de thés avec des achats faits sur le Web, ce qui permet d’en essayer de nouveaux. Le premier remet un échantillon de petite taille et le second donne trois minis échantillons différents. De plus, David’s Tea fournit parfois par exemple, une boîte de thés gratuite d’une valeur de 20 $ en guise de promotion.

Rooibos.jpgRooibos zeste éclair crédit photo : Camellia Sinensis

En vous abonnant à leur infolettre, vous serez à l’affût des offres en vigueur. Les thés de Camellia Sinensis et certains de David’s Tea sont vendus en vrac, donc ça nécessite un infuseur. Personnellement, je préfère les infuseurs de David’s Tea aux boules à infuser, car ces dernières laissent passer plus de grumeaux.


L’infuseur parfait – blanc crédit photo : David’s tea

Les marques Camellia Sinensis et David’s Tea sont vendues dans leurs boutiques respectives et en ligne. Tandis que les tisanes de Celestial Seasonings se retrouvent à l’épicerie, dans des marchés d’alimentation naturelle ou en ligne.

Crédit photo de l’image de couverture de thé à la menthe marocain : RecipiesHubs


En décembre dernier, j’ai adopté un mammifère félin que j’ai nommé Mia. Cette petite femelle grise est dotée d’un pelage soyeux taché de brun et de beige. Mia est mon animal préféré, car c’est mon premier chat. C’est le chaton que je trouvais le plus mignon de la portée. Son menton a la particularité d’être divisé en deux couleurs, gris et beige, en plein milieu. On dirait qu’elle a toujours un sourire accroché aux lèvres.

Elle miaule peu pour une chatte, mais elle ronronne beaucoup. Elle me rappelle la Fille au chat (1875), ce fameux Renoir, car elle aime se blottir contre nous. Parce que je travaille de la maison, elle me suit toute la journée. Ses croissants de lune du petit matin se transforment en billes noires et ambrées dès midi.

Les chats restent des chatons au moins jusqu’à l’âge de huit mois. Mia est comme un enfant de deux ans qui veut jouer quotidiennement. Je souris quand elle chasse sa souris. Bien que la plupart du temps elle soit affectueuse, elle peut être turbulente. Elle a cassé mes écouteurs et mon imprimante en sautant dessus lorsque j’imprimais des documents. Elle nous a volé des objets, tels que de la monnaie ou des fruits. Je n’ai toujours pas retrouvé l’avocat qu’elle a confondu avec une balle. Il doit être en train de pourrir dans un coin de mon appartement.

Parfois, elle m’énerve lorsqu’elle me mord plusieurs fois par jour au même endroit sur mon bras. Je l’aime malgré tout. C’est la petite boule de poils qui nous accueille à notre retour à la maison. Celle qui se met au travers de la porte afin d’essayer de m’empêcher de sortir. Intrépide, elle saisit chaque occasion pour partir en fusée dans le corridor de l’immeuble. Toutefois, elle a toujours une peur bleue des chiens, même ceux qui sont plus petits qu’elle !


Crédit photo : Alexandra Tremblay

Note : Ce texte sur ma chatte aux yeux jaunes a été rédigé dans le cadre du cours Stylistique et rédaction donné à l’Université de Montréal durant l’hiver 2016.

Crédit de l’image de couverture : Les Grands Peintres

White, Pink or Purple Pachyderms?

White, Pink or Purple Pachyderms?

The elephant has inspired some interesting idioms in English and French. Most English speakers know the expression a white elephant, meaning an undesirable possession that is “jumbo” size; for example, Montréal’s Olympic Stadium has often been called a white elephant. Here are some more examples of elephant idioms that are expressive, colourful … and sometimes confused!

  1. Un éléphant dans une boutique / dans un magasin de porcelaine

In English, a clumsy person may be compared to a bull in a china shop; but in French, an elephant rather than a bull breaks things when loose in a china shop. The reference to a bull is not very appropriate because, according to MythBusters, a bull in a china shop is surprisingly nimble. Perhaps the French are right. MythBusters should conduct the same test with an elephant to find out what happens.

  1. Let’s address the elephant in the room – Parlons de l’éléphant

“The elephant in the room” refers to an issue that observers are trying to avoid. This expression may be translated by l’éléphant dans la pièce / la salle; le problème dont on ne parle pas; or le sujet tabou.

  • One delegate called the topic of climate change “the elephant in the room.” – Un délégué a qualifié le thème du changement climatique « d’éléphant dans la pièce ».
  1. Pink elephant – éléphant rose

Made popular in the 1950s, the expression pink elephant is a metaphor for the hallucinations of an inebriated person.

Beware of stray elephants…

Unfortunately, elephants sometimes wander. The following sentences from the Internet are examples of what I would call “mixed-up” metaphors:

  • It is the famous elephant in the room that everybody avoids talking about. – C’est le fameux éléphant dans la boutique de porcelaine: tout le monde évite d’en parler.
    (Incorrect translation; an elephant that wanders into a china shop won’t be ignored for very long.)
  • It would be like not noticing a three-tonne pink elephant in the middle of the living room. – Ce serait comme ne pas voir un éléphant rose de trois tonnes en plein milieu du salon.
    (Pink elephants, being too hard to ignore, should be banned from the living room.)

And, finally, the following sentence turned up in a concordancer:

  • That’s the purple elephant in the room – C’est l’éléphant dans le salon dont personne ne veut parler.
    (The translator corrected the sentence in the French version, omitting the unusual colour, since purple elephants are even harder to ignore than pink ones.)

N.B. The opinions expressed in this article are solely the author’s. Thanks to Sheila Ethier.

By Barbara McClintock, C. Tr.

Image source :


Petit guide de mes thés préférés Partie I : Les thés avec caféine

Il y a environ un an, je ne sais pas ce qui s’est passé exactement. J’ai rapidement développé mon goût pour les thés et les tisanes. Depuis ce temps, j’en achète de toutes les sortes, afin d’en essayer le plus possible et de découvrir quels sont les meilleurs. J’aime les thés noirs, les Earl Grey, les thés au jasmin et les rooibos. Je déteste certaines tisanes à la camomille et les tisanes ayant un goût artificiel. Au fil du temps, j’ai également appris à aimer le thé vert.

J’affectionne tout particulièrement la marque de thés québécoise Camellia Sinensis. Leur Earl Grey Crème avec pétales de centaurée sent terriblement bon. Son goût présent est crémeux et presque sucré.

Crème Earl Grey.jpg

Earl Grey Crème
Crédit : Camellia Sinensis

Tandis que Earl Grey de Marie-Antoinette biologique consiste en un délicieux thé noir agrémenté de pétales de roses enivrantes.


Earl Grey de Marie-Antoinette biologique
Crédit : Camellia Sinensis

Puis, j’ajoute de l’anis étoilé à Chai Orange Express biologique, une variation sur le chai. Alors que Perles du Dragon, désormais un classique, plaît à tous. Il s’agit d’un thé vert au jasmin facile à apprivoiser dont chaque petite boule de feuille a été roulée à la main. Le thé noir Lapsang souchong a un surprenant goût prononcé de fumée. Vous l’aimerez si vous êtes fana de rhum tourbé. Ces thés d’une haute qualité restent assez chers.

Perles du dragon.jpg

Perles du Dragon
Crédit : Camellia Sinensis

Pour ce qui est de la marque de thés Celestial Seasonings, mon préféré demeure le thé noir yerba maté Morning Thunder. C’est difficile de décrire le goût du yerba maté, qui peut être rebutant aux premières gorgées. Disons que c’est un goût qui se développe. J’adore le boire au petit matin.


Morning Thunder
Crédit photo : Celestial Seasonings

J’aime beaucoup les thés Four O’clock offerts en plusieurs déclinaisons différentes, mais semblables. Mon préféré est sans contredit le thé vert jasmin et fleur de lotus. Son mélange de morceaux de pommes, de pétales de bleuet, de rose et de souci est à la fois beau et sent divinement bon. Puis le thé noir au citron est simple, mais efficace.


Thé vert jasmin et fleur de lotus
Crédit photo : Four O’clock

J’estime que pas mal toutes les déclinaisons de thés verts sont bonnes, peu importe la marque. Il suffit de ne pas plonger le thé vert dans de l’eau trop chaude, soit à environ 85 degrés Celsius. Il est conseillé de retirer le sachet ou l’infuseur après seulement trois à quatre minutes, sinon il prendra un goût amer.

Lorsque j’ai certaines épices dans mon garde-manger qui se retrouvent dans mes thés, j’aime en ajouter lors de l’infusion, notamment : de l’anis étoilé, du poivre rose et des clous de girofle. Je trouve que les thés de Four O’clock et de Camellia Sinensis sont plus concentrés que ceux de David’s Tea. Autrement dit, il faut la quantité recommandée des premiers, mais en mettre plus que celle recommandée du second.


Anis étoilé
Crédit photo

Pour tous les thés en vrac, il est habituellement possible de les infuser deux fois en laissant le thé tremper plus longtemps la deuxième fois. Les thés de Camellia Sinensis sont vendus en vrac, donc ça requiert un infuseur. Ces derniers sont en vente en boutique et en ligne. Pour ce qui est des thés de Celestial Seasonings et de Four O’clock, vous les trouverez à l’épicerie, dans des épiceries fines et de produits naturels ou en ligne. En somme, boire du thé en vrac est une bonne habitude écoresponsable à prendre. Dans la deuxième partie de mon petit guide, je vous partagerai mes tisanes coups de coeur.

Image de couverture : tasse anglaise de la collection centenaire de Royal Albert. Crédit : Camellia Sinensis


Lady and Master Gender Neutral Language

Lady and The Tramp

With our apologies to Walt Disney lovers, lady is a tramp. Nowadays, it is best to avoid the word lady, which has a paternalistic connotation that gentleman does not have. Some women take offence at being referred to as ladies, depending on the context. Just picture the 1960s: the ladies gossip and wash the dishes in the kitchen and the gentlemen retire to the living room to smoke. On the other hand, very few people would object to “Welcome, ladies and gentlemen.”



Master Bedroom

Another expression that is being phased out is “master bedroom” because “master” is considered offensive by some people (master versus slave). It is being replaced by “owner’s bedroom” or “owner’s suite” in the U.S. for residential real estate.

Source: Washington Business Journal Blog,_house_in_provence,_master_bedroom-resized-600.jpg

by Barbara McClintock, Certified Translator

Cover image source
Image source 1
Image source 2

Pourquoi j’achète des vêtements faits au Québec

C’est important pour moi d’encourager les designers de mode québécoise. Pourquoi ? À l’adolescence, j’ai suivi des cours de couture pendant environ deux ans. C’était assez difficile et j’aimais beaucoup ça. C’est probablement pour cette raison que j’admire le travail des designers de mode d’ici. Je n’ai pas le portefeuille assez profond pour n’acheter que du québécois, mais je fais “l’effort” d’acheter des vêtements de qualité faits ici qui vont durer plus longtemps.

La première collection qui a attiré mon attention est la collection automne/hiver 2010-2011 de Ève Gravel avec la blouse style années 80 Jelly Bones et la mini-jupe noire Rubber (photo ci-bas).


Source de l’image

Par la suite, j’ai eu un coup de coeur pour les chandails embellis noir ou gris en angora ou en mohair puis les petites robes noires, dont une inspirée par Tim Burton, de la collection 2011-2012. Si j’avais pu, j’aurais absolument tout acheté ! Une collection parfaite. J’en suis encore nostalgique.


Chandail Bourdin de Ève Gravel.


Chandail Newton de Ève Gravel.


Chandail Claudel de Ève Gravel.


Robe talon aiguilles de Ève Gravel.


Robe Tim Burton de Ève Gravel.

Comme vous pouvez le constater, je n’achète pas seulement parce que c’est fait à Montréal, j’achète parce que je trouve ça BEAU. Très, très beau. En général, les vêtements proposés ont des coupes et des couleurs classiques qui vont rester à la mode pour plusieurs années. L’année passée, j’ai découvert la marque Betina Lou grâce au blogue Ton Petit Look. Je possède une robe, Paige en denim, que je chéris, car elle est magnifique.


Robe Paige de Betina Lou.

Le bémol avec ces vêtements est qu’ils nécessitent d’être nettoyés à sec, ce qui est moins pratique et coûte plus cher que des vêtements lavables à la machine ou à la main. Lorsque j’achète un nouveau vêtement avec une telle étiquette, je me renseigne auprès du magasin afin de savoir si le lavage à la main est possible.

Acheter local à un moindre coût

Je vais aux braderies de mode québécoise au printemps et à l’automne avec mon copain, ma soeur et/ou des amies. J’y ai découvert la marque Annie 50 qui offre des designs féminins faciles à porter, dont des pièces lavables à la main.

Lorsque les nouvelles collections sortent, je fais un tour de piste en ligne et je choisis vaguement d’avance les morceaux que j’aime le plus. Puis, je compare les prix en ligne et j’attends que ce que je veux tombe en solde. Je me suis aussi inscrite aux infolettres des designers que j’aime, alors je reçois par courriel l’information concernant les promotions et les soldes. C’est aussi une bonne idée de demander des vêtements en cadeau de fête ou de Noël.

The Fountain of Youth?

Lately, magazines have been claiming such things as “90 is the new 60!” In some cases, that might be true. You hear about 96-year-olds who do very well after surgery. The 88-year-old Queen is still fulfilling her official duties. Consequently, it’s time to review our use of the word elderly. Elderly is defined in several major English dictionaries as someone who is “rather old” or “past middle age”. Middle age means about 40 to 60 years old according to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Most people would be mortified to be described as an “elderly 65-year old”. It is perhaps time to change the definition of elderly to someone who is “very old”, without specifying an age range. Even my 84-year-old mother refers to herself as a senior—she’s not ready to be described as elderly yet. We also see the term frail elderly (personne âgée fragile), which should be used with caution because it refers to both the people’s state of health and age.

By Barbara McClintock, Certified Translator

Source of the image: painting by Eduard Veith